Blurbs

Memoir Revisited
By Rosemary Biggio

    In the age of the selfie and the democratization of writing, memoir has bloated the publishing world. Because of its inclination to exhibitionism, memoir has been the black sheep of the literary family. As a reader, I confess my antipathy for self-help and memoir genres. As a writer, fiction allows me a protective mask to hide. Call me a coward.

The best memoirs are literary, shaped like novels with a beginning, full of exposition and character development, a middle, often with climactic events, and an ending that ties up what came before with a satisfying resolution. Memoirists are best when they use the same creative toolkit as fiction writers and should be evaluated by the same criteria.

The title, Floating in Saltwater, by Barbara Carter condenses the memoir’s theme, drifting through life’s stages. The book jacket designed by the author and artist could have been the work of a child, washed in shades of blue, and lacking spatial features. The author’s name floats between the horizon and the sea. An ominous shark by size and color threatens. A reluctant reader hooked by title and book jacket opened the memoir.

Ms. Carter’s book establishes an intimacy with reader seldom possible in fiction. She crafts the memoir with attention to conflict, realistic dialogue, and character gestures. Characters leap from the pages to life. This reviewer has two suggestions for the memoirist include pictures of the three developmental sections. Use more details to create the 60s atmosphere.

In the introduction, the author summaries her journey, “At first this story was all about finding answers for myself, but over the years, I found the bigger picture–everyone has pain and wounds and my hope is that by sharing mine it can help you let go of the baggage that you no longer need to carry.”  Graham Greene believed that there is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in. Barbara Carter found her moment.

The book is 226 pages with a study guide, published September 2016 by Create Space Independent Publishing Platform. Both paperback and kindle are available through Amazon.com

 


Breakfast. Get a second cup of coffee and reach for Rosemary Biggio’s CROCKPOT COOKING. Each story is short enough for one sitting. With each the author introduces the reader to memorable characters whose plight often reflects our own daily struggles, our aspirations . There is Tommy who is bullied by Horse, Chase Foot following his dream or Elwood emancipating himself from his mother. Rosemary Biggio masterfully creates a local milieu that invites the reader to participate in her world. Are there favorites? Of course! Mine is THE STORK. With the briefest of strokes the story transcends the mundane and becomes magical. That second cup of coffee coupled with a story from CROCKPOT COOKING is a wonderful start to “an Earl Grey morning”. Irene B. Fineberg, retired language teacher

 


Crockpot Cooking, A Collection of Prose and Poetry by Dr. Rosemary Biggio is a delicious volume of tasty morsels drawn from the author’s New York childhood, rich imagination, literary and stylistic knowledge, Catholic upbringing, and subtle humor. Those ingredients are woven together in a potpourri of inventive and memorable short stories, vignettes, historical fiction and poetry. In some ways, the collection is an extended metaphor as the author cleverly sustains sensory images of foods and spices that marinate her prose and poetry, tempting taste, texture, and aroma. Lyrical, at times, the writing is filled with human emotion and just right literary allusions. Economy of language and diversity of content keep the pot boiling in this splendid collection replete with memorable characters, conflicts, life lessons, and literary recipes probing the human condition. Bravo, Dr. Biggio!
Daniel N. Walters, Ed.D
Margate City, New Jersey

Crockpot? No way! This book stuffed with poems and stories is a buffet of comfort food and delicacies. Here mac and cheese, there truffles and caviar. Enjoy them all.
Peter E. Murphy poet author Stubborn Child, Thorough & Efficient, Mr.Nobody

Author Rosemary Biggio’s Crockpot Cooking: A Collection of Prose and Poetry is a delightful mélange of delicious description. Grab a fork and dig in. From nostalgic reflections on simpler times of the 1950s and 60s to a compelling look at the underside of a daunting journey made by French girls hopeful to forge a future in the swampy wilds of eighteenth century New Orleans. Biggio knows how to stir her pot of gumbo. Not only is the description scrumptious, but the author’s characters feel real and her plots are succinct, leaving this reader’s taste buds tingling–anxious for more. Bring on the second course, please, Dr. Biggio! Your readers deserve another taste of your eclectic recipes that make for such a satisfying repast.
–Chris Mitchell, Professor of English, Delgado Community College, New Orleans, LA

 


CROCKPOT COOKING is a smorgasbord of very well written short stories and poems broken down into four courses: Starters, Blue Plate Specials, Flash in the Pan Sides and Poetic Desserts.
Starters introduces us to 2 distinct characters in 2 separate stories sharing the common theme of life as an outsiders.

Blue Plate Specials is a collection of 10 stories, most of which could be considered coming-of-age stories. Even the stories with adult protagonists seem to be about finding one’s true self or figuring out one’s place in the world. Biggio does a beautiful job depicting an adult world through the eyes of children as they try to make sense of the life they find themselves living. And the stories are all timeless, yet read with a sense of nostalgia as if everything is an almost-distant memory. For the most part, it is easy going from one story to another, perhaps not unlike if one were tasting mashed potatoes and then having a bite of roast pork. However, The Casket Girls, almost startles the reader like a bit of gristle in the gravy. A tale bordering on paranormal, with hints of vampires in New Orleans, the story seems out of place with the rest of the collection.

Flash in the Pan Sides are relatively short short stories that depict a variety of people learning to accept and deal with their lives as best they can. Biggio has a masterful hand with these stories, tying them together thematically. We are first introduced to Ollie and Ethel living lives of disappointment in BORROWED TIME. Their story is followed by three unrelated stories about people moving beyond disappointment to get what they want, albeit by intriguing means. And then the section ends with UNDER THE BIG TOP, where disappointment trumps all (except for Ida, who runs away with the circus).

Finally, Poetic Desserts ends the book with a collection of poems that at first disappointed me – I had expected something more thematically in line with the book and the poems are of jarringly different subjects. But they are written with a sincere hand and the reader is left feeling satisfied and satiated with the book as a whole. Lisa Shiroff, author Show Up Dead, Revenge Café, Hitting the Sauce

The book is a delectable literary delight that gives a taste of Fringe Living in Arizona, the Arrival of the Casket girls in America and the Children of the Orphan Train. Frances Leiby, writer

 


Crockpot Cooking is just a lovely read, perfect on a cold winter’s night, curled up with a nice cup of hot tea or hot cocoa. A collection of stories that take you back to a simpler time… wonderful stories that capture a time many of us worry has disappeared. Stories of family, friendship, life and living. Simply told, these stories have a way of getting into your soul. Wonderful short stories that let you peek into these lives for brief moments. A fantastic read I’ll enjoy for quite a while.

Ron Cohen
Director| Out of the Blue Productions
257 E Lancaster Ave Suite 204 | Wynnewood, PA 19096
610.645.5665 office
www.outoftheblueproductions.com

 


Crockpot Cooking: A Collection of Prose and Poetry is a delightful book that takes the reader on a journey to meet many interesting characters. It’s a peek into the stew pot of life. A chance to explore and discover. A book to satisfy every taste bud.
Rosemary—just like the herb—adds a dash of flavour to every page, providing something for everyone to enjoy…
Barbara Carter: artist, writer and fellow Critique Circle partner.

 


Crockpot Cooking is just that, a succulent stew of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. These stories flow effortlessly, rendered vividly with images and dialogue that evoke our remembrances of “better” times, when the American dream belonged to everyone, and political correctness had not yet been invented. Rosemary Biggio always shows, never tells her tales, revealing a gifted ear for dialogue and an eye for detail as she summons recollections of our childhood families, friends, and neighborhoods. With equal deftness she tosses in memoire and historical fiction; but make that history with a twist. Bits and bytes of the strange and even the occult, can occasionally touch down and whisk the reader by surprise, to other times and places. Crockpot Cooking is a unique and wonderful read, written by a talented story teller; an enjoyable companion for a cold winter’s night.

Lucia Schneck